Would You Buy A Longboard From A 3x Stab In The Dark Winner?
Channel Islands release their version of a traditional log.
In 1992, Surfer Magazine printed an article regarding the evolving state of affairs between longboarders and shortboards. The final sentence playfully reads, “We have met the enemy, and he is us. And he is riding a very big board.”
As the story goes, the shortboard revoluton of the late ’60s rendered the current public obsession with glide momentarily irrelevant. After winning the 1966 World Surfing Championships in San Diego, Nat Young offered that noseriding had led the sport into a blind alley. Sentiments of this sort, paired with almost a decade of shortboard development, saw the glorious longboards of old cast aside, or sold at garage sales for nominal cash.
Of course, the ravenous hunger for short railed innovation came with significant oversights, as many aging surfers did not have the skill to enjoy riding twitchy, tiny boards — especially when the waves were two foot and soft.
So, in the late 1970’s, longboarding and it’s far more democratic style of beautiful fun began it’s slow return to the mainstream — encouraged in part by the same characters which once shunned it — and the aforementioned chasm between shortboarders and loggers opened up.
Though today there is still a stretched out spectrum from tail-wafting diehards to hummus-making, toe dangling hipsters, the space between is now occupied by a number of beloved cultural characters — people like Ryan Burch, Bryce Young, Mikey February, Torren Martyn, or our Mysterious Affair pilot and WSL Longboard World Champ Harrison Roach. Grey area has been colored in, and a bridge has been built between the once absolutely antithetical ends of our culture.
As further evidence of this, Channel Islands Surfboards — an indisputably high performance brand and 3x winners of Stab In The Dark — have just released their CI Log.
“Al Merrick first started shaping longboards in the ’60s, just before the transition to shortboards,” explains Devon Howard, the key collaborator and in-house test pilot for the CI Log. “Although longboards pretty much vanished altogether in the ’70s, Al made them in them in the 80s for his customers as their popularity began to return. Through the 1990s and 2000s he was primarily shaping performance shortboards for Slater, Machado and the like, though we always had some form of longboard in our roster.
“We like making all kinds of stuff at CI and, until now, we hadn’t had a top-shelf traditional longboard in our roster. Britt Merrick partnered with longtime longboard sensei Wayne Rich to design and shape the CI Log’s unique low apex rail to provide more drive, sensitivity, and certainty through turns. This log is up to par with any of the best logs that people in Duct Tape events or on the WSL Longboard Tour would ride.”
In our Most Popular Surfboards Of Last Year story, the majority of the brands we interviewed do not offer a longboard. In fact, the only mention of longboards in the entire article was that they were multiple brands’ least selling boards.
In the same story, however, multiple brands (including CI) cited mid-lengths as some of their best selling boards — a trend the average thrust-happy pedestrian would not have predicted in 2016.
“The great thing is that today’s market is open to all the creativity that’s on offer,” Hayden Cox once told me. “People are buying what they’re into. It seems like there’s no preconceived notion of what you should be buying anymore, whether that’s PU, epoxy, or some heavy lamination with gloss polish. Typically boards that have been previously perceived as entry level boards are now being refined.”
If anything, Channel Islands’ new log seems simply another symptom of the rapid deterioration of self-imposed surf limitations — i.e. people are realizing it’s cool to ride everything.
We’ll check back in next year to see how their experiment in glide has paid off.
And, for those of you hopelessly addicted to asking people what the volume of their board is, CI has volume numbers for the log on their website.
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